India’s singles campaign at the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger ended on Thursday following Sumit Nagal’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat to Australia’s Max Purcell at the KSLTA courts.
For a set-and-a-half, Nagal was the better player, but the match turned on an injury time-out for Purcell at 4-3 (on serve) in the second set when a trainer was called to strap his ankle. He came back with renewed energy to win eight of the next 11 games and book a place in the quarterfinal.
In the first set, Purcell, the more pedigreed player with a doubles Grand Slam title and two runner-up finishes under his belt, didn’t seem like himself, largely playing the percentages, with the occasional pull of the trigger.
His serve was erratic; he fired six aces but could land only 61 percent of his first serves. In the seventh game, he missed two and lost both points, and sent a pick-up volley wide to be break-point down. Nagal took it with a fine pass and held his nerve on the two subsequent holds to pocket the set 6-4.
In the second stanza, with Nagal set to serve at 3-4, Purcell called for the trainer. After nearly 10 minutes of treatment, he sprung back like someone who had just had his magic potion.
The 24-year-old stepped into the court a lot more and tried to cut points short. Nagal wilted under the pressure, double-faulting on the only break-point he faced to go 3-5 down. He lost the set minutes later.
The pattern repeated in the middle of the third set when at 3-3, 30-30, Nagal miscalculated an approach and then double-faulted on break-point. The Indian also seemed bothered by those practising on the adjacent court, with the fierce sound of the ball striking the backboard affecting his concentration.
Nagal won that contest, with some help from a match official and a member of his support team who cajoled those practising into not hitting for while. But he lost the match, getting broken in the ninth game, despite saving five match-points.
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